Uproar over US Official's Tweets on Daniel Pearl

US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power says Daniel Pearl Foundation shows 'accountability,' causes outrage.

Tova Dvorin ,

Samantha Power
Samantha Power

Samantha Power, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, caused a brouhaha on Twitter Monday night after she tweeted comments which some view as controversial, about slain journalist Daniel Pearl. 

Pearl, 38, was the South Asia bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal when he was abducted in Karachi on January 23, 2002, while researching a story about Islamist terrorists.

A horrific video showing his decapitation was delivered to the US consulate in the city nearly a month later. In the video, Pearl confirmed to his captors that he is Jewish, and his last words were the Shema Yisrael prayer. 

Power first tweeted praise for Pearl's parents Monday, stating that she was "honored" to meet them and noting that they "responded to hate with dialogue." The Daniel Pearl foundation hosted a series of talks between Daniel Pearl’s father, Professor Judea Pearl, and Dr. Akbar Ahmed, Chair of Islamic Studies at American University over tensions between the Jewish and Muslim communities and have received several prizes.

However, what seemed like diplomatically correct comments descended into confusion when she stated that the slain journalist's story sends the message that "individual accountability and reconciliation are required to break cycles of violence." 

Samantha Power commits #twitterfail Screenshot

This was interpreted by some as meaning that Pearl himself had displayed "individual accountability" in being murdered. Power then clarified that she was referring to Pearl's "work" and not his "story." But the ambiguity nonetheless caused a firestorm of responses on the social media site, which ranged from confusion to outrage over what the comments could have meant. 

Reactions to Power on Twitter Screenshots

The remark also sparked an outrage from at least one political figure: Texas State House Representative Steve Stockman (R), who immediately called for Powers's resignation.


The immense backlash to the original tweet not only caused Powers to submit a correction, but also began to make media headlines. Fox News reached out to the White House soon after the tweet was posted but it has not released a statement on the incident. 

The Washington Times​ noted that the backlash from Jewish media was particularly virulent. 

“OMG. She actually said that,” the Jewish Press wrote. “She proposed an equation in which two sides, the jihadists and Daniel Pearl were each engaged in violence against each other, and look what happened.”

The Israel Matzav blog added, “Remind me now … to which ‘cycle of violence’ did Daniel Pearl belong when he had his throat slit by a Pakistani Muslim? When was the last time Israel attacked Pakistan?”

This is not the first time Power has made headlines for controversial comments. 

Power, who was confirmed by the Senate at the beginning of August, has been criticized for past statements against Israel, including a 2002 interview in which she said that "external intervention" may be necessary to prevent "genocide" and "major human rights abuses" in the "Palestine/Israeli situation".

During that interview, Power responded to a hypothetical question and said that if given the opportunity she would not advise the president to sacrifice billions of dollars of aid to the Jewish state, allocating the funds instead  to “the new state of Palestine.”

Two weeks before being confirmed, she appeared to have done a complete 180-degree turn, slamming the UN’s "unacceptable bias" against Israel and pledging to lobby hard to get Israel a seat on the Security Council in 2018.